This is not an Asian soup made after an original recipe, but it’s a bowl resulted from the shy exploitation of an equally shy wish: that of being simple, flavored and tasty, sweet and sour soup, with chicken and other things. Here’s all about it:
In a cast iron wok I put about three and a half liters of water. A put the dried boletes in water. Boletes contain monosodium glutamate, which is a natural salt used in the Asian cuisine in the synthetic form,
which in Japan is called “umami” (apparently, “umami” is the taste that we sense thanks to the channels opened by MSG – Japanese people, please don’t be offended, everybody makes mistakes) or Chinese salt, in most parts of the world. Since I brought this up, I’ve been reading about MSG and the danger it represents. There are all kinds of sites that present MSG as a poison that is killing us slowly. After considerable research, I concluded that we should be more preoccupied with the ethical part about using MSG than with the medical part. There are probably more people with gluten intolerance or with peanut butter allergies than with intolerance to MSG, and the other direct side effects on human health are not described an in exhaustive manner by reliable sources. I do, however, believe that MSG is dangerous, not because it would give headaches to a small number of people, but because, when massively added to food, distracts the attention from its main taste, lying to the consumers and making them believe an inferior type of food tastes better, and, at the same time it provokes a kind of addiction to the food containing it (I’ve seen tens of cooks who can’t prepare a soup without Vegeta on the basis that otherwise it has no taste). The good news is that, apparently, the MSG we constantly get from nature only has the benign effect without which we wouldn’t enjoy eating. I say let’s not stop the research here :)
I cut the chicken (5-600 grams of breast) into cubes. I added it to the water in which the boletes, with their umami and everything, were already boiling.
I cut a bit of ginger and put it in a wok.
A quarter of a fennel bulb (cut into strips) had the same fate.
After the meat was boiled, I put fresh mushrooms in the wok. And some leek and a few strips of bell pepper.
To thicken the soup and give it the jelly texture of most Asian soups, I added a cup of oat bran and let the soup to boil for 2-3 minutes and then to simmer for another five. I had never done that before, it was simply an intuitive experiment. It worked.
The following participated: a few cobs of baby corn (canned).
Two tablespoons of sweet/hot sauce.
Two tablespoons of tomato passata (purée).
Two handfuls of Chinese noodles, thrown into the hot soup.
A few leaves of green salad, added lastly.
The soup was great.
Besides sticks, we also had spoons, of course.
Special thanks to
Oana Bodnariuc, Authorized Translator